A new play structure representing the West African foktales of Anansi the spider has been commissioned for Fairytale Town in Sacramento’s Land Park.
Sacramento sculptor Garr Ugalde has been selected to design the Anansi installation, the first new play structure in 20 years at Fairytale Town, according to a news release. Fairytale Town is a storybook-themed play area, popular with young children, that sits across Land Park Drive from the Sacramento Zoo.
Work will begin in Garr’s studio this summer, and on-site preparation is expected to start in November. The play structure, named “Anansi’s Web,” is to be installed and ready by March 2018.
According to African folklore, Anansi is the keeper of all stories and wisdom. He is also a trickster who obtains his goals by various ruses, according to the news release.
The new play structure will feature three vertical climbing webs between four posts sporting characters from an Anansi tale: a leopard clinging to a tree trunk, a python wrapped around another tree with a hornet’s nest, a turtle and a monkey. A sculpture of Anansi sitting on his basket of wisdom will occupy the center of the exhibit.
“Thinking of how one could sculpturally depict a single story from all of Anansi’s tales proved a difficult task,” Ugalde said in a written statement. “How the children could relate and interact with such an exhibit led me to the idea of the web to connect the plethora of Anasi’s stories. The attraction to the climbing net is self-evident – every child loves to climb.”
Ugalde has exhibited his works in Sacramento and across the country. He attend art school at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, before coming to to California in 1979 to attend San Jose State University, where he studied printmaking and sculpture.
He moved to Sacramento in 1993 and set up a sculpture studio. Ugalde has completed several public commissions in the region. The most recent is a series of three sculptures called “Agora’s Light,” which was installed in December at American River College.
The new Fairytale Town structure is made possible through a $100,000 grant from the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission and individual donors, according to the news release.
Fairytale Town requested proposals from professional artists for the new play structure. Six artists responded, and three were selected to create scale models. Ugalde’s proposal was selected by a panel of seven board and community members for its “playability and artistry,” the news release said.